Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Boring Day of Hiking

The day started off beautiful!
July 7: I woke up with clear skies, but it felt dark and dreary under the trees. The thick canopy was claustrophobic. Setting up the tarp didn't help matters in that regard, but at least it did dry overnight.

I packed up camp and started off, bumping into a couple of other hikers about five minutes later. They were nearly ready to start off themselves. I didn't recognize either of them while bundled up in all their warm clothes, but when one of them spoke, I suddenly recognized her. Motor! I hadn't seen Motor since near Warner Springs over 500 miles before and thought she was a solid week or two ahead of me. She was hiking with her boyfriend now, Issac, which is the reason I caught up so unexpectedly. She took five days off the trail at Mammoth Lakes to meet up with him, then since he hadn't been hiking for the last couple of months, he wasn't doing the miles that Motor was used to doing regularly. I don't want to suggest that he slowed her down, but I think he slowed her down. =)

There's an American flag flying at the
top of this mountain. Probably an
Independence Day thing. Click on the photo
to see it enlarged.
The three of us hiked together for a little while catching up on each other's adventures, but I pushed on ahead after a few miles.

More of those menacing "afternoon thunderstorm clouds" returned later in the day, spitting a few drops of water at me but thankfully holding off on a genuine rain. Definitely lots of thunder, however, echoing through those valleys!

The biggest drag of the day were mosquitoes. They came out in force late in the afternoon, pushing me ever faster down the trail. As long as I continued walking, the mosquitoes left me alone. If I stopped for even a few seconds, they'd swarm--hundreds would attack from every direction. DEET helped, but not enough. There were just too many. So I kept hiking. I grew hungry for a snack break, but I kept hiking. And hiking fast--the faster I walked, the fewer problems that the mosquitoes posed. Snow was minimal, and I pushed 25 miles by 4:30 in the afternoon.

Motor and Issac
A few patches of snow appeared to have gotten so much rain that it washed out the footprints in them. For the first time, I often felt like I was entering virgin country, inaugurating patches of snow with fresh footprints. I considered making a few false trails to throw off other hikers--how would they ever know, and wouldn't it be fun? But it wasn't necessary, as it turns out. I took enough wrong turns by accident that I certainly didn't need to make any effort to deliberate make wrong turns.

I quit relatively early. I'd done my miles, and the skies still looked like they could rain at any time. I wanted to set up camp and escape the mosquitoes. My tarp wouldn't protect me from mosquitoes, but once I stopped hiking, I could change into my warm (and thicker!) camp clothes and slide into my sleeping bag. No mosquito has ever been able to bite me through my sleeping bag. A head net, gloves, and a thick, fleece jacket protected my upper half. I also camped at a top of a small hill, just beyond Blue Lakes Road, where I was able to catch a small gust of wind. Seemingly miraculous, the clouds started to part and the campsite was surprisingly warm, bright, and comfortable.

Those 'afternoon thunderstorms' looked
like they would be back. Oh boy!
I didn't expect anyone to find me up there--I was a little ways off the trail putting distance between myself and a small creek (another method to help reduce the mosquito problem--avoid camping near water sources), but Shades and Green Mile dropped in just before sunset. Just as the shotgun blasts started echoing through the air.

"I just love the sounds of nature," I told Shades and Green Mile as another shotgun blast through the air. In truth, the guns blasting didn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Most of the evening I spent finishing up my Agatha Christie book. About murder! Death! All the while listening to gunshots. Hmm.....


Ryan said...

Yeah, I know, clicking on the image doesn't seem to make it larger. *shrug* Just know that the dot hovering above the mountain really is the American flag. =)

-- Ryan

veganf said...

That was the first thing I noticed! Bummer! I always enlarge a few photos to show to the kids over breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought you posted that photo because it looks like a really fat critter resting an arm on its belly. :-)


Anonymous said...

I thought it looked like a critter climbing over the summit or an old bear sleeping on its belly

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Whew! And I thought my computer had frozen up. Your photos deserve biggefying.

I imagine the background sounds of gunshots and thunder were quite mood inspiring for a good Agatha Christie book.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers